So, you’ve been riding for awhile and you keep hearing about how pedals can increase your efficiency. It’s time to upgrade and get the best pedals for your road bike.
How Road Pedals Make You Faster
There is no doubt that getting the right pedals will greatly improve your efficiency. Even better, they can help reduce pain and help prevent injuries.
Most beginning cyclists are going to pedal in tennis shoes or running shoes which have a soft sole. The soft sole absorbs some of the power from each stroke, making your efforts mushy. It also causes the foot to “fold” over the pedal and stresses the arch of the foot.
When you switch to a proper clipless bike pedal, the shoe is going to be stiffer to support the foot better, eliminate hotspots and deliver more power with each stroke.
The other way that pedals help is by improving the power on the upstroke. Because your foot is clipped in, you can pull up on the upstroke. This not only greatly increases your available power, it also helps you to develop more balanced muscle development and burn more calories.
I guarantee the first time you climb a hill with your new pedals and pull up on each stroke, you will be completely blown away by the difference.
Choosing Road Bike Pedals: Road Bike Pedals Vs. Mountain Bike Pedals
Road cleats are significantly larger. They enable you to create a much tighter bond between you and the bike and a larger platform for delivering power. If you are planning on doing some serious mileage, you need to go with the road cleats. However, they are harder to walk on, and some people are concerned with how tightly they hold you into the pedals.
The mountain cleats are much smaller to allow room for tread surrounding the cleat. So for commuting and mountain biking, this is a great cleat to go with. However, they don’t allow nearly the power delivery that a road pedal will. The nice thing is, it is easy to snap in and out of these pedals.
You can use either pedal on a road bike. It’s up to you!
Best Road Bike Pedals For Beginners
Most of the road bike pedals on the market use some variation of the original LOOK pedal design. I’ve seen a lot of people go with the Wellgo brand. They are extremely affordable and are a great way to get into riding. However, I have also seen a lot of these Wellgo pedals fail after about one season of use.
What seems to work better is the Shimano SPD-Sl pedals. These pedals are great for all riders because, you can adjust the tension on the cleat, making it easier to clip out of, and allowing for more “float” or movement for those of you who are concerned about being clipped in. They also tend to hold up extremely well, and I’ve seen some last for 5 years or more of riding.
And, they only cost about $20 more than most of the cheapest pedals. It’s a great setup.
Best Road Bike Pedals For Bad Knees
I, unfortunately, have bad knees. It happened during a sporting accident when I was 13 and I damaged my meniscus. I have experienced a significant amount of pain in many different sports due to this, and it took a lot of effort to find a setup on my road bike that would work well with my knee.
There were several things we did to resolve my knee pain. First of all, it became critical that my knee was directly over the pedal when the pedal was in the 90-degree position. I had to swap out seat posts to push my saddle forward and help create a correct bike fit. Then, I switched out the pedals for some that had more float.
I found the Speedplay pedals to be ideal. With the Zeros, I was able to get up to 15 degrees of float out of my pedals, enabling my feet to adjust themselves into their naturally most comfortable position.
I also mounted the cleats as far back on my shoe as possible, which enabled my leg to absorb more of the pressure of pedaling, and relieving my knees of most of the work.
Frankly, I think that Speedplay pedals are some of the best pedals money can buy. They hold up well, they are super easy to clip into, and they work well for any road rider. I realize their cost is a little prohibitive, but almost everyone who has ever tried them has instantly converted. Quite simply, these pedals rock.
Best Road Bike Pedals on The Market
There is a pretty good discussion between whether the Look pedals or the SPD-SL pedals are better. They are both a top-notch pedal, and both are used by the best teams in the world.
However, the Look pedal system is often lighter. They are also super easy to clip in and out of.
Pedal-to-pedal, you will find that the Looks actually blow the Shimano system out of the water. However, most bike shops already have agreements with Shimano, so you will most often see those pedals on the shelf.
But from my experience, once someone finally switches to Look, it is hard to get them to go with any other pedal.
The Look Blade Classic 2 is an excellent design that infuses the strength and lightness of carbon fiber to create a one-of-a-kind polyamide. It has a large, open platform, making it easier to get clipped into the pedal when taking off from the stoplight … or the start of a race.
The best part is the weight. A pair of these pedals is only going to weigh about 280 grams. There isn’t a Shimano road pedal in this price range that can even come close to that (unless something has been released in the last 90 days that I don’t know about).
Considering that the price is virtually the same, it makes sense to go with the Look pedals.
Great Mountain Bike Cleats For Road Bikes
If you were thinking of trying mountain cleats for your road bikes, I’d encourage you to look at the Shimano PD-A520’s. These pedals use the smaller mountain-style cleat pictured above, so you get all of the advantages of being able to clip in and out easily, as well as being able to walk around comfortably in your shoes.
However, in order to provide a more efficient pedaling experience, Shimano surrounds the outside of the cleat with a platform. This means that when you pedal, you are not only pedaling on the cleat, but also on the surrounding pedal. It helps reduce hotspots rather significantly (as compared to a mountain pedal design), and really is a great blend of both pedal styles.